Canada and U.S. 2008 elections

Written by  //  September 21, 2008  //  Canada, David/Terry Jones, Geopolitics, Politics, U.S.  //  No comments

Curious Coincidence
David Jones writes in American Diplomacy

A Summing Up
Our parallel elections offer a Comparative Government 101 tutorial on operational differences between two vibrant democracies. We can appreciate that the strengths and weaknesses of each society are also reflected in the other and learn from comparing/contrasting solutions. Our coincidences are greater than our differences. Fortunately, our differences are of the “jaw-jaw” nature, but the elections are unlikely to resolve our extended period of gritted teeth.

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This year is particularly fascinating for observers of “alternative North Americas” – that is, the interaction of Canada and the United States in their multifaceted interlocking relationship. And for the proximate delight of political junkies, you have the juxtaposition of the U.S. 50-ring, long/long running circus with a Canadian election that, having been called on September 7 will be over on October 14 – hardly a blink of the eye in U.S. political campaigning.
The U.S. election cycle has a remarkable clarity: One knows years, even decades ahead, when the next election will be held. In good times or bad, the U.S. population will head to the polls every four years for a presidential election. However, in parliamentary systems, traditionally, unless defeated in a “confidence vote,” governments determine when an election is held – at the time most auspicious for them. Thus British PM Margaret Thatcher capitalized on a successful Falkland Islands campaign to call and win a snap election. In contrast, “Bush 41” was unable to build on his 90 percent approval following the 1991 Desert Storm victory and had to wait until 1992 to go to the polls – when inter alia the “stupid economy” brought him down. Full article

David T. Jones, a retired senior Foreign Service Officer, served as minister-counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. He has written extensively on Canadian affairs for American Diplomacy and other publications in the United States and Canada. He is the co-author of Unfinished Neighbo(u)rs, a book about U.S.-Canada relations.

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